Posted in Racism, Uncategorized

White Man’s Sin: Racism? Responding to the Current War Heating up in the Church

While many of my Christian brethren love to propagate their freedom of choice, an honest evaluation of our lives reveals that for all of our talk of freedom there are many things that we did not choose for ourselves.

We didn’t choose our birth, or the timing of our entry into this world, nor did we have a say in the location. Neither did we have the ability to chose our ethnic heritage. And if I wanted to rub some further salt in the wound, we didn’t have (nor do we now) a choice in our gender. Our coming into the world, as momentous of an event it may or may not have been, was not something that we sat down and decided beforehand.

True, our parents may have decided to “make a baby,” but even in that choice many necessary limitations were put on the will of the man and woman who wanted to bring a child into the world. On the other hand, God did make all of those choices for us. He didn’t ask our opinion, but rather He did what He deemed right.

By the way, that is always how God acts in history (it is His-story to begin with!). The Lord Almighty created mankind in His image, male and female He created us (Gen 1.26-28). God has chosen our time, our place, our talents, our gender, our skin color, our wealth and the length of our lives.

  • And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place (Acts 17.26).
  • “Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass…” (Job 14.5).

God in His Sovereign providence has decreed and purposed all things perfectly according to His good will: “By your appointment [O Lord] they stand this day, for all things are your servants” (Psa 119.91; cf. Psa 148.5-6; Eph 1.11). God has a justifiable reason for everything under the sun, everything in the spiritual realm; although, we must readily admit our ignorance on many matters. For what God has not deemed worthy to reveal are His by divine right; and yet, what He has given to us is for our benefit (Deut 29.29).

I say all of this to point out one glaring truth: God has brought about all these things, including my heritage as a man. Everything that I possess is a gift from God. You with me so far? Of course, this is the easy stuff. But that is not why I am writing this post.

There is no question that we live in a nation that has a mountain of sins in its history. One of those sins is the mistreatment of others because of their skin color (or other facial features that are more readily seen). Slavery and segregation were horrible atrocities. Ethnic bigotry, which is often coined by its more popular term “racism” is downright evil. But is this evil, what we would rightly call sin, a white man’s disease? Is racism the “white man’s sin?” The answer is pretty obvious, but nonetheless its very unpopular and will be vehemently denied by many in Western society; sadly, even those in the Christian Church.

NO! Racism is not the white man’s sin, but is a sin that all people of various shades of color may be guilty of.

Notice that I did not say “all people” are guilty of this hatefulness, because the truth of the matter is that not all people of various shades of color are guilty. There are black people who are racists, just like there are white people who are racists; there are yellow people who are racists, just like there are red people who are racists. Skin color is not the determining factor of whether or not a person may be a racist. Loving to hate people because they are different than you, is! As Charles Ware notes, “At the central core of racism we find the sinful heart of men living in a fallen world.”[1]

In recent years, I was at a family outing where the discussion of Christian faith was brought up. As the conversation shifted (as they have a tendency of doing) the individual made the comment about coming to the church where I pastor. After sharing their intention of coming, they then offered as a side: “As long as you don’t have a rope in the tree out back.” For a moment, I was kind of taken back. “Why, would this individual say this to me?” I’m not a racist, never have been. Some of my best friends over the years have been people of various shades of color.

Now what seemed forever in my analytical mind, was mere moments for those attending the conversation in question. My response was quick and to the point: “all human beings are descendants of Adam… (we’re of ‘one blood’) ….”[2] Truth be told, I did not tell this person the following quote, but the quote and the teaching of Ken Ham did help in forming my own views from a biblical standpoint. What I believed to be true as a child, was just attested by another many years later, and was offered as a summary to the individual I was speaking with.

Of course, the question remains, “What do we do about racism?” Do we sweep it under the rug? Do we bury our heads in the sand? Do we avoid the conversation so that we keep from being labeled divisive? No. All of those solutions are not solutions. They may seem like solutions if you are a pacifist, but they are not no matter how greedily you may want to cling to them.

Christians are called to be divisive since our nature is to be set apart by the truth (cf. John 8.31; 14.6; 17.17). Truth naturally divides from that which is false. Therefore, confrontation is necessary. Those who are guilty of the sin of ethnic bigotry (racism) need to repent. They need to confess to Christ what they have done, and if they have in anyway harmed another image bearer, they should quickly turn to that person seeking their forgiveness.

Christians ought to drive home the truth in word and action that the remedy for such hatred is not highlighting the differences, but pointing to the need of turning from sin to the atoning work of Jesus Christ, who alone can save and radically change such hatred. For in Christ “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in [Him]” (Gal 3.28). Jesus removes all such distinctions.

What Christians should not do, and sad to say many are jumping on this band wagon, is promote one group of people based on their ethnicity over and above another, because of the sins of the past. My great, great, great grandfather may have had black slaves (he didn’t by the way, at least not that I am aware of) in the past, but I am not that man. How can you hold me accountable for the sins of others? What authority do you or any other have to seek reparations from me, when I am not the guilty party? Plainly speaking the answer is this: You have no right to seek such things from me or lay accusations at my feet, nor do you have the right to hold a grudge as if I am the one who has sinned against you.

Now it may be true that God will, because of covenantal responsibilities, deal out what He deems appropriate for such sins of the past. But He has the authority and the Sovereign right to do so. He and He alone, not you, not anyone else or even another group of likeminded individuals have Christ sanctioned authority for such actions or beliefs.

Christians are called to peace. We are called to be people of the book (The Holy Bible) and to learn to not go beyond what is written so that we are not puffed up in our hearts against another (1Cor 4.6). How much better we would all be if we were not so anorexic when it comes to reading God’s Word, so that we might rightly apply it to every situation. Racism is not a white man’s sin, but the sinful person’s hatred that needs to be nailed to the cross in order to put it through the death throes.

ENDNOTES:

[1] A. Charles Ware, “A Bridge Too Far,” in Darwin’s Plantation: Evolution’s Racist Roots, Ken Ham, A. Charles Ware and Todd Hillard (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2007), 38.

[2] Ken Ham, Carl Weiland and Don Batten, One Blood: The Biblical Answer to Racism (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, [1999], 2004), 167.

Posted in Christian Living, Christian Witness, Worldview Analysis

Cultural Confusion: One Better than Another?

Sad to say, I am a product of the public-school system. I did not grow up in a family that earned a lot of money (I still remember a time when we got our milk in a box…all you had to do was add water!) and so any other option of schooling was not possible. I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy my time there. I did. Even though my academic career was spent as a sojourner; State to state, city to city, school to school. While I did not become familiar with the Eagles until I was a sophomore in high school (94-95), he’s the “New Kid in Town” would have served nicely as my theme song.

One constant, however, from one school to another was the beloved subject (in case you can’t hear it, sarcasm is dripping from every syllable now) social studies.

The goal of multicultural study has not only reflection on other cultures habits, practices and beliefs in mind, but a slow and steady assimilation of that culture with the students own. One of the overarching premises is that all cultures are essentially equal. One culture is not seen as better than any other, all are valid expressions of a world and life view. Or so many assume.

Of course, this raises the question about culture itself…what is it? How do we define it?

Most often when people try to define culture they refer to the traditions, beliefs, practices and customs of a particular group of people. What people value as individuals within a collective group is the guiding force behind all cultures. Culture may be divided between various ethnicities (what some still call “the races” today). A culture finds expression in obscure parts of the world, different cities, opposing neighborhoods, or even small family units. Culture is seen in the various expressions of food, art, clothing, entertainment and…oh yes, religious beliefs.

That last one is often seen as unimportant. That’s a bit ironic since culture is actually a reflection of one’s religious beliefs. Where else do you suppose those guiding values come from? Religion offers deep seated convictions about the nature of reality and the source of knowledge. Religion acts as a buffer to life’s most pressing questions: “Why am I here?”, “What’s my purpose?”, “Is this life all that there is?”, “Will how I live have lasting consequences?”, etc.

            At every step, men [i.e. people] build culture according to their beliefs, because building a culture is only working out in practice what men have in their hearts. A man’s religion thus determines everything he does; it gives him the motivation to do what he does, it also informs him what is of value and what is not…

When men build a culture, they ask questions about the nature of reality, the nature of man, the issue of good and evil, the issues of values, and the future. The answers to these questions determine how they [live]…Their every cultural action in every area of their individual and social life—family, education, science, politics, economy, even leisure and recreation—will be based on those answers.[1]

In other words, there is not one area of life that is not culturally driven apart from religious belief. A given culture will always reflect the religious values from which they people draw from as authoritative. It is for this reason that “some cultures operate on assumptions that are inherently better than those of other cultures because of the biblical truths that inform those worldviews that have produced these distinct assumptions. Those elements of a given culture that reflect divine revelation should be celebrated and promoted.”[2]

I realize that may smack in the face of some who have been taught and come to believe that all cultures, and the societies that are fashioned around them, are fairly equal. How can a person make the claim that one culture is inherently better than another? A study of history would help. Was Hitler’s Germany a better or worse culture than say, American or British culture? What about Japanese culture in the past that forbade normal people from possessing any form of arms that provided self-defense against tyranny, in comparison to other cultures that believed people should have a right to protect themselves from physical harm regardless of where the source of violence against them came from?[3] How about the Aztecs that practiced sacrificed virgins or children on the altar of their gods?

Surely, civilized culture is better than that…right? Well, this really depends on whether or not that civilized culture is built upon the precepts of a biblical worldview. I want to close with a short discussion on current fight over unborn children in our nation, in order to shed further light on the vast differences between one culture versus another within the same nation as allegiances shift between one religious’ system to another.

Did you know that the current battle for unborn children is not a new thing?[4] During the 19th century in the United States this battle was fought and won when a culture saturated with Christian ideals came against the secular humanism that was growing at that time.

Like so many times before, the dark specter of death cast a long shadow across the American landscape during the nineteenth century. And like so many times before, faithful followers of Christ rose to the occasion to defend the needy and the helpless with their very all-in-all…they demonstrated in word and deed that every human being is made in the image of God and is thus sacred.[5]

The result of this battle was that victory for a culture influenced by the Word of God. “At the outset of the nineteenth century child-killing was actually legal—if only marginally—in ever state in the Union. By the end of the century the procedure had been criminalized across the board. Most of the legal changes came during a short twenty-year period from 1860-1880. And so once again the message of life and hope overcame and defeated the minions of death and despair.”[6]

In closing, my point is two-fold. First, culture is an outward expression of a societies (large or small group) religious convictions. Second, culture influenced by a biblical worldview is markedly better than other cultures; contrary to what I was taught in public schools. Although there will always be imperfections even in a culture led by Christian thinking (we are all sinners), I would much rather have that type of culture than anything this world has to offer today.

ENDNOTES:

[1] Bojidar Marinov, “Can a Christian NOT Create a Christian Culture?” American Vision (Blog), August 3, 2011, https://americanvision.org/4963/can-a-christian-not-create-a-christian-culture/.

[2] “Article XIII,” in The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel, https://statementonsocialjustice.com/#affirmations-and-denials

[3] Don’t get me wrong I love the fact that from this tyranny in ancient Japan helped foster the practice of various forms of martial arts; of which, I myself am an avid student (Matsubayashi-ryu; Pine Forest). Not to mention chop sticks which make eating Japanese style cuisine all the more favorable!

[4] Actually, this fight has been fought throughout the annuls of history. What may surprise some is that this fight has been won on several fronts by people who believed in the one true God of Scripture.

[5] George Grant, Third Time Around: A History of the Pro-Life Movement from the First Century to the Present (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt Publishers, 1991), 109, PDF e-book.

[6] Ibid, 109.

[7] The image above is a reconstruction of the Gutenberg printing press created by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th century (1436). This creation was a product of a culture influenced by biblical precepts.

Posted in Christian Living, Worldview Analysis

Seasons of Gratitude

Life tends to go about in cycles. Take for example water. Water has three phases; liquid, gas and solid. Various factors affect the cycle of water. The temperature rises too high and the liquid turns into vapor. The temperature falls below a certain point and the liquid freezes solid. To some extent all of life seems to work in this fashion. Life appears to work in a circular fashion. I believe this is why the ancient world assumed that the history of life always has this tendency: circular (eternal) and not linear (finite with a start to finish).

As advanced as we may pretend to be in our modern-civilized world we find the same philosophy carried along. The very popular Disney movie the Lion King embeds this belief into the minds of their unsuspecting audience captured in the Elton John song, “The Circle of Life.” The premise of the song is that life—history—always functions in a cyclical fashion. No real beginning. No real end. Life is just a circle. We live. We die. Our bodies are absorbed by others to sustain them, and then our force is shared with the universe.

For those of us who live away from the equator we are blessed with the cyclical fashion of the seasons. In Ohio, we have long winters, short spring’s and summer’s and fall’s. Year after year we watch the seasons change, despite many climate theorists Dooms Day scenarios.

Now, I’d imagine most people if you asked them would tell you they have a favorite time of year (season). Some like the Spring because of the flowers and the greenery. Some of the more demented individuals love the rain showers that preceded this newness of life. For others the heat of summer and the bronzing rays of the scorching sun are what they like. To be sure, I love the extra hours of day light, but hate the heat and accompanying humidity. Not to mention the nagging plethora of bugs that plague the wooded countryside where I live.

My favorite season is Autumn. I love the changing color of the surrounding forests and the cool crisp air after a nightly frost. Flannels and campfires, roasted marshmallows and semi-blackened hotdogs, cups of warm coco and beautiful starlit nights…not to mention the disseminating/dying bug population are just a few reasons why I love this time of year so much.

The Bible reveals that “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease” (Gen 8.22). That is to say life has its consistency, its stability in God. He holds these things together. He sets the boundaries on times of life, labels them and gives them importance.

I write this because contrary to the secular worldview that states all that we see…all the uniformity in the midst of supposed chaos, which is thought to be brought about by chance random processes (an accident, a very good one but an accident nonetheless) is actually the Sovereign work and design of our Creator. God not only created the seasons as we know them, but He has appointed each for their place. The same is true with our lives.

You see, our lives are lived in many ways like the seasons going on around us year-by-year. Although we may not remember the day(s), our entrance into this world was a season of great joy for our parents and grandparents and their friends. Our childhood is both a time of excitement, exploration, trial, error and corrective discipline for us, but a time of memory building, responsibility in rearing and meaningful prayers being lifted up on our behalf again by those loved ones in our lives that knew our names before we did. Each year is a reminder of our birth. Each year is filled with seasons of celebration, thankfulness, disappointments and fears. We grow into adulthood and experience all the wonders of that season of life (marriage, work, childrearing, etc.) Eventually, for those of us who are fortunate (those of the human race who have been graced with long life) see their children grow into men and women, raising families of their own. We experience the loss of family and friends, people who have touched our lives with their presence. Every moment, every day, every week, month and year…every event in our lives has special meaning to us (good or bad) …every breath is a gift.

Regardless of where life has taken you. Regardless of where you find yourself right now…whatever season you are experiencing, each and every moment is a gift from above. Sometimes it is very easy to forget that truth. Sometimes we have a tendency of getting caught up in the negative circumstances of life and we let it slip that today we are alive. Today we have an opportunity to live.

My point is this. Life may seem to have no purpose, to just go in circles repeating itself again and again for no real reason at all, but that is not the truth. Life, every moment of every day is a precious gift. Even pain, suffering, trial and tribulation has a purpose. Even pain teaches us that we are alive and that we have something to thank God for. Because even in our pain and suffering we know that we are living, and He has given this to us…we are not dead.

Have you thanked Jesus Christ recently for the good, bad, for the better and the worst, even in sickness and in health? Have you truly cherished Him, who created and died for you? Have you been grateful for the seasons of life, in life, that He alone has granted? If not, will you not do so?